What information can you find out at Companies House Beta?
Sometimes you just need a bit of reassurance that the product you ordered will arrive or your new customer is likely to pay you.
Before you enter into any contract or place an order, it’s worth doing a simple, free check with Companies House.
Back in 2014 Companies House launched a free search service which allows everyone to find information about any UK limited company. Although the service is still in beta release, Companies house are adding new features all the time.
When I checked today, there are over 4.5 million company profiles and 8.8 million director profiles.
Do the details match?
But what should you be looking for and why?
It’s important to know the legal entity of the company you’re dealing with. Remember if a company is “limited”, it is the legal entity but many businesses operate under a completely different trading name.
Be certain who are you dealing with?
Search for a limited company and you’ll land on the Overview page. Here it tells you the basic information about the business such as how long they’ve been in business, their company number, nature of business, previous company names and when the accounts are due.
What to look for: Make sure the business is active, see who the directors are and does this information match what you know already.
Is a business financially stable?
Go to the Filing history tab to see every document a business has previously filed with Companies House. For long-standing companies, with many pages of documents, simply by category e.g. if you want to see all accounts filed, just click on the Accounts box.
What to look for: Look at the last set of filed accounts. How much money do they owe to other people (creditors)?
Who makes the decisions?
Who controls the business and who has authority to make decisions? The People tab who the directors are, how many there are, how long they’ve held office and if they have an interest in any other companies.
What to look for: Your contact may have been person who approached you, but this doesn’t mean they are the person with authority to pay the bills. This is a common cause of not being paid on time.
Normally, you’ll only see tabs for the three categories I’ve just covered: Overview, Filing History and People.
If there are second charges, liquidations or bankruptcy filings for a company, you’ll also see Charges and Insolvency tabs. If there aren’t any such issues, you won’t see the tab.
If you’re still not sure or struggling to make sense of accounting documents, or if your search turns up something you’re not sure about, do get in touch as I’d be happy to advise on what questions to ask and how to adapt your contract.
I’m Rachael, the Contracts Lady and Cash Flow Queen and I make time for anybody who needs a chat. Book 15 minutes with me
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